FD in Five Minutes: Thom Harvey

Third Sector speaks to the finance director for the pregnancy and parenthood charity NCT

Thom Harvey
Thom Harvey

What made you work in the charity sector? I remember being at the Glastonbury Festival when I was about 15 and talking to someone at the WaterAid tent, possibly while queuing for the loo. The work they were doing sounded amazing and I hadn’t really met anyone so excited about their job before, so I think that might have sown the seed.

What do you do outside work? I love the great outdoors and to get on my bike or go kayaking. I also volunteer with a brilliant small charity, the Newman Holiday Trust, which runs respite holidays for children with special needs. It’s the perfect antidote to being stuck in front of Excel for the rest of the year.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? When I was a teenager, I worked at Northampton Saints’ rugby ground. The stadium manager was a former Commonwealth Games-winning hammer thrower. His no-nonsense approach and determination left its mark on me.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? I think a lot of good could be done by changing elements of the VAT regime that most disadvantage charities when competing for contracts. This system also encourages dysfunctional decision-making around, for example, outsourcing support functions, so it needs to change.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Yes, though there are challenges. The world is changing so quickly and we need to think creatively about how we meet our beneficiaries’ needs in the digital age. But there is great work going on and the sector is full of passionate people committed to overcoming obstacles.

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Charity property: could you be entitled to a huge VAT saving?

Charity property: could you be entitled to a huge VAT saving?

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When a property is being constructed, VAT is charged at the standard rate. But if you're a charity, health body, educational institution, housing association or finance house, the work may well fall into a category that justifies zero-rating - and you could make a massive saving